10 Best Places To Retire In North Carolina For 2019

We analyzed over 57 places in North Carolina to identify the ones that offer the most to retirees.

Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the best places to retire in North Carolina.

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Are you reading this article on a slow Monday morning, wondering how you will make it through yet another long work week? Even if we love our jobs, there are always moments where you wonder… what will life be like after work? What will life be like when you retire?

Retirement is a time that people are either scared of because that means you have hit a certain age in life or excited for because it means you can pursue your hobbies in greater depth and travel.

Which are you? If you are excited, what are some of the things you dream about? Is it long walks on the beach in the morning, picking up seashells newly washed ashore? What about joining a sea turtle conservation group?

If the beach isn’t your idea of a perfect retirement, what about the mountains? Do you think about all the great hikes you could take your dogs on or the stars you will see from your porch?

What about opening a small bike shop in the mountains as a hobby so you can bike on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Or even taking out that old DSLR camera you’ve always wanted to master and use it to create breathtaking landscape shots?

If those scenarios seem appealing to you, then perhaps moving to North Carolina for retirement would be a great option for you.

North Carolina has the best of everything: great weather, access to beaches and mountains, affordability, and great community involvement.

But where in North Carolina is the best to retire? Good thing we’ve already figured that out for you as well.

We analyzed 57 cities to determine the top 10 best cities using retirement factors like safety, affordability, and access to fun stuff. The winner? Congratulations Newton!

Newton is a small town sandwiched between Charlotte, Statesville, and Black Mountain in North Carolina that is perfect for any retiree. You can spend weekends swimming Lake Norman or camping in the mountains.

North Carolina is a state that constantly comes up on lists about great places to live in the U.S., so why not move here for retirement?

Interested to see how to the other cities stacked up? Keep reading to learn more about our methodology and to see why each city is perfect for retirement.

For North Carolina state reading:

Newton, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 12,999
Rank Last Year: 23 (Up 22)
Median Rent: $679
Distance to Closest Airport: 34 miles
More on Newton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Where’s the best city to retire in North Carolina? That would be Newton. Surprised?

Newton moved up 22 spots to clinch the number one best place to retire in North Carolina for 2019. They scored off the snackabiilty chart in terms of amenities and commute times.

They have an airport within 35 miles and they have boatloads of activities that retired people like to do: like golf and tennis.

Newton also has a Super Walmart; so if you only want to semi-retire, you can get a job as a greeter.

Factor in low crime and lots of friendly people, and you’ve got one heck of a place to call home.

Tarboro, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,206
Rank Last Year: 36 (Up 34)
Median Rent: $670
Distance to Closest Airport: 68 miles
More on Tarboro: Real Estate | Data | Photos

We’re pretty sure the North Carolina Snowbirds would agree that Tarboro definitely deserves to be the second best city to retire to in 2019.

They scored off the charts on our snackability scale. They are less than an hour from multiple beaches, the have a great golf course within the city limits; and when you get a hankerin’ for the senior citizen blue plate special, they have a Denny’s around the corner.

Tarboro is so great, they also earned a spot on our top 10 Best Cities to Raise a Family. (It’s worth a google.) They really know what they’re doing in this Edgecombe County city.

Lenoir, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 17,956
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 11)
Median Rent: $585
Distance to Closest Airport: 57 miles
More on Lenoir: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Where’s the third best city to retire to in North Carolina? You might be surprised to hear it, but it’s Lenoir.

Not only is Lenoir one of the most beautiful cities in the state, it’s close to the Blue Ridge Mountains. And mountains mean more hiking, biking, and just good ‘ol fashioned scenic drives when you need to get out and about on a retiree’s budget. #Score

And, if you want to get away to a bigger city, it’s easy. Yeah, people in Lenoir have it made.

Albemarle, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,968
Rank Last Year: 22 (Up 18)
Median Rent: $623
Distance to Closest Airport: 43 miles
More on Albemarle: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Our fourth best city to retire to in North Carolina for 2019 is Albemarle.

Albemarle can be really really really exciting for a retiree. It’s located between the Uwharrie National Forest and Charlotte. You can take a hike and visit the Queen’s City all in the same day.

Albemarle crushed our snackability scale in three categories. This Stanley County city has a boatload of stuff for retirees to do, it’s very diverse, and it’s easy to get around.

Rocky Mount, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 56,175
Rank Last Year: 34 (Up 29)
Median Rent: $715
Distance to Closest Airport: 55 miles
More on Rocky Mount: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Despite the fact that many people haven’t considered it before, Rocky Mount is actually a great place to retire.

Rocky Mount is super close to Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh, so you will never get bored. The city itself has a lot of great museums, historic places, and multiple venues for their growing arts and culture programs.

The numbers don’t lie, retiree’s are comfortable here. Rocky Mount has one of the largest percentages of people 65 and older on our list. You will be happy to make the transition because it seems that just about everyone in Rocky Mount is in a great mood all the time.

Eden, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,434
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 3)
Median Rent: $632
Distance to Closest Airport: 68 miles
More on Eden: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Eden comes in as the 6th best city to retire to in North Carolina for 2019. While there are tons of places in North Carolina that seem like they are in the middle of nowhere, you won’t feel that way here.

Eden’s average rent is doable and you can be on a plane to anywhere in less than an hour.

However, you probably won’t feel the need to travel much after you retire here, Eden is located on the border of North Carolina and Virginia. You will have two states to explore. That sounds like the best of every retiree’s world to us.

Belmont, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,494
Rank Last Year: 61 (Up 54)
Median Rent: $749
Distance to Closest Airport: 5 miles
More on Belmont: Real Estate | Data | Photos

If you’re looking to retire to a North Carolina city with an idyllic village, Belmont is should be your go to city.

The coffee shops in Belmont are always buzzing with friendly meet-and-greets, and their downtown is the perfect North Carolina backdrop for long walks in the park and/or some deep porch sitting.

And for those of you interested in a nice relaxing cruise down a river or some lazy day kayaking, Belmont is conveniently located on the Catawba River.

So, pack up the Cadillac and head to Belmont: there’s a seat at the local coffee shop with your name on it.

Shelby, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 20,259
Rank Last Year: 21 (Up 13)
Median Rent: $689
Distance to Closest Airport: 34 miles
More on Shelby: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Continuing our best cities in North Carolina to retire tour brings us to Shelby. This awesome city in Cleveland County moved up 13 spots to clinch our 8th best city to retire. #Kudos

The median household income is around $40,000. This means that Shelby has the money to keep the city nice and safe.

There are hardly any vacant homes in Shelby. That means lots of people want to live here. We don’t blame them. There’s just something about Shelby’s small town charm.

Review Of Shelby by HomeSnacks User

from Shelby lived here 34 years best town and best fire dept. in Cleveland county

Southern Pines, NC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,258
Rank Last Year: 71 (Up 62)
Median Rent: $772
Distance to Closest Airport: 58 miles
More on Southern Pines: Real Estate | Data | Photos

With over 20 golf courses in and around Southern Pines, this is every golf enthusiasts mecca. And if we know anything about retirees, they love to play golf.

We also know these golf clubs provide ample opportunities for retirees to explore activities like tennis, swim aerobics, bridge club…you get the picture.

Heck with all of these clubs at your disposal, ‘lunch with the ladies’ will have a whole new meaning if you move to this city in Moore County.

Did we mention there’s an Amtrak Station in downtown Southern Pines? Forget the need for an airport. Hopping on a train instead of the hustle and bustle of an overcrowded airport is not only convenient, it’s first class. #YouDeserveIt

Kings Mountain, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,053
Rank Last Year: 40 (Up 30)
Median Rent: $751
Distance to Closest Airport: 23 miles
More on Kings Mountain: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Our last stop on the best cities to retire to in North Carolina for 2019 is Kings Mountain.

We are not surprised that Kings Mountain crushed our snackability scale with an emphasis on amenities and transportation.

First off, it’s super close to Charlotte, which means it’s super close to great shopping, restaurants, and an international airport. Secondly, it’s close to Crowders State Park. And that’s great for retirees who love the outdoors.

Don’t wait another second, Kings Mountain wants you to call it home.

How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Tar Heel State for 2019

To create our list of the best places in North Carolina to retire, we first used Census data to find all places in the Tar Heel State — 736 cities and towns.

We then narrowed it down to places with at least 10,000 people that weren’t townships. This left us with 57 places from across the state.

For these 57, we looked at the following criteria taken from the Census, the FBI’s Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights:

  • Low cost of living as measured by rent
  • Low crime
  • Things to do (Museums, Colleges, and Libraries in town)
  • Nice weather
  • Distance to the closest international airport
  • Other retirees (High median age)

We then ranked each of these places for each criteria from one to 57, with the lowest number being the best.

Finally, we took the average rank across these criteria. The place, in this case Newton, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers.

Maybe You’re Not Ready To Retire In North Carolina Yet…

So there you have it, the best place to retire in North Carolina goes to Newton.

If you’re not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:

  1. Hope Mills
  2. Monroe
  3. Fayetteville

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Retire In North Carolina?

Rank City Population Median Rent
1 Newton 12,999 $679
2 Tarboro 11,206 $670
3 Lenoir 17,956 $585
4 Albemarle 15,968 $623
5 Rocky Mount 56,175 $715
6 Eden 15,434 $632
7 Belmont 10,494 $749
8 Shelby 20,259 $689
9 Southern Pines 13,258 $772
10 Kings Mountain 11,053 $751

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.